Oxfam UK uses ice sculptures to draw attention to human impacts of climate change.
Oxfam UK uses ice sculptures to draw attention to human impacts of climate change.

POZNAN, Poland — The big names begin arriving in Poznan today as negotiations ramp up in the final three days of the international climate change meeting.

And U.S. congressional staffers warn that passage of cap-and-trade climate change legislation is unlikely to happen in the next 12 months.

Former Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to speak at the COP this week. Former Presidential nominee John Kerry also will be arriving today, as will UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

After more than a week of often-contentious debate, the COP will now enter a new — and more intense — phase. Environmental Ministers from nearly 200 countries will descend on Poznan to receive progress updates from their delegations here and then take the lead in the final days of the talks.

And as the international negotiations continue, lawmakers back in the United States are preparing for their own debate on how to stop climate change.

During a panel discussion in Poznan on Monday, aides for Rep. John Dingell and Sens. Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe and John Kerry said political and regional disputes — along with the complex legislative process — will make passage of a cap-and-trade bill before the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen next December highly unlikely.

It’s in Copenhagen where policy leaders hope to finalize a new climate change agreement to replace Kyoto Protocol commitments that expire in 2012. The new deal needs to be finalized early to give countries the time needed to ratify it.

But the congressional aides said passage of legislation before Copenhagen was not needed to have the United States sign on to a new global climate deal.

Regardless of what happens in Congress, policy makers, environmental groups, community advocates and others will work intensely over the next year pushing for the creation of a comprehensive climate agreement.

The next year will require engagement in both international and domestic processes far beyond what The Nature Conservancy has ever done before,” said Andrew Deutz, director of international institutions and agreements for the Conservancy, who is here in Poznan.

“The financial crisis has led some to say we can’t afford to move forward on a global climate change agreement. The reality is we can’t afford not to. Science shows us that every year we delay action, the costs of reducing emissions rises and the damage we will suffer increases.

(Photo: Christian Gunthier via Flickr)

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